Animal welfare labelling: Commission report launches in-depth political debate
The European Commission adopted today a report in which it outlines a series of options for animal welfare labelling, to facilitate an in-depth political debate with the other institutions. The overall goal of policy in this area is to make it easier for consumers to identify and choose welfare-friendly products, and thereby give an economic incentive to producers to improve the welfare of animals. The report also presents options for the possible establishment of a European Network of Reference Centres for the protection and welfare of animals. Such a network, modelled on the existing Community Reference Laboratories for animal health, could provide technical support for the development and implementation of animal welfare policies, including regarding certification and labelling. The document, based on an external study and a broad stakeholder consultation, is the Commission's response to the conclusions of the May 2007 Agriculture Council which called for a report that would allow an in-depth debate on animal welfare labelling. Although the report does not endorse any of the options outlined, it identifies those which are considered to be the most feasible today. Harmonised requirements for voluntary animal welfare claims, for example, constitute one such option to support transparent information to consumers. Another is a voluntary Community Animal Welfare Label open for all to use, provided they meet the criteria.